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Last week, The Times sent Google the evidence it had collected about the links to JCPenney.com. Google promptly set up an interview with Matt Cutts... "I can confirm that this violates our guidelines," said Mr. Cutts during an hourlong interview on Wednesday, after looking at a list of paid links to JCPenney.com...
On Wednesday evening, Google began what it calls a "manual action" against Penney, essentially demotions specifically aimed at the company. At 7 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for "Samsonite carry on luggage." Two hours later, it was at No. 71.
A Penney's spokesperson denied that they had authorized those links - and they fired their search consulting firm.
People talk about JCP cheating, breaking the rules, etc... Cheating who? Breaking who's rules? It was a smart business decision in my opinion. Their stockholders should be happy. Who cares if they arent found for "Sheets" or "Skinny Jeans"? As long as they do good for JC Penney... or sheets @ JCpenney, right?
Sure... Im not happy my own sites got bumped down also, since I do play by the rules Google has scared me into playing, but that was my choice. Google has ME scared of the risk. (FUD)
It looks like Google is penalizing JCPenney on branded searches.
All of this could have been prevented if Matt would have told the Times to file a spam report
Sorry, but I disagree. If you want to be in Google's house, you play by Google's rules.
I just got a hold of an exploited site where they were doing SEO with hundreds of files in a folder (not JCPenney). This seems to be a big business. It's unfortunate for people who are doing things honestly.
Had it been someone at WebmasterWorld or some other experienced SEO who questioned the serps, well that I could see.
Could have been that one of our fellow forum posters was doing some backlink research, saw the spammy backlins for JCP, and then dropped a dim to the New York Times
I am sure they probably still rank #1 for "cheap polyester dresses that itch like HeII"
Google is not particularly good at detecting spammy / paid links,
If x site gets x amount of links with the anchor text "keyword" in a "x" period if time
and would have to be alot more complex than that